Photo courtesy of IMSA

Porsche sets IMSA GTLM lineup, reveals GTD upgrade plans

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As part of Porsche’s annual Night of Champions in Stuttgart, Germany, the manufacturer’s GT plans came into focus in full after weeks and months preparing to reveal its 2018 program.

The IMSA GT Le Mans side will, as expected, see ex-LMP1 drivers Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber return to North America. The pair has enjoyed rapid, meteoric trajectories as Porsche factory drivers and will be back to being split in the pair of Porsche 911 RSRs next season.

Tandy will share the No. 911 car with Patrick Pilet, and Bamber the No. 912 car with Laurens Vanthoor.

Gianmaria Bruni, who co-drove with Vanthoor in the second half of 2017, has been transferred over to Porsche’s FIA World Endurance Championship entry and will run as third driver in the No. 912 car next year. Fred Makowiecki will be third driver in the No. 911 car.

Dirk Werner, who co-drove with Pilet in North America this year, will race for Porsche in both the Intercontinental GT Challenge and Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup next year.

Porsche has also revealed the technical details behind the “evo” package upgrade for its Porsche 911 GT3 R GT3 car, which enters its third year in 2018.

Per Porsche, the customer car receives an upgrade – not a fully new car – for the 2018 season. The parts kit, which can be used to update all 2016 and 2017 models, includes among other things, a new front lid/hood for the optimization of thermal management and side flicks on the front bumper to improve aerodynamic balance.

IMSA’s 2018 season starts with the Roar Before the Rolex 24 in early January, then the Rolex 24 at Daytona itself later that month.

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.